Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kenya Rules Out Evacuating Citizens from Epicenter of Coronavirus

FILE - Passengers arriving from a China Southern Airlines flight from Changsha in China are screened for the coronavirus upon their arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 29, 2020.

Kenya's government said that its citizens stranded in Wuhan city — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — are safer staying where they are.

The announcement came amid demands for evacuation by the families of about 100 Kenyans stuck in the city, a majority of them students on Chinese scholarships.

Speaking Thursday, government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said none of the students had contracted the disease, but if they flew back home, they could put others at risk.

"We are a very wise government that looks at things in broad totality, not based on what others are doing but based on what we think is right for our children," Oguna said. "These Kenyans are coming from different locations of Wuhan and they will be assembled in one central location. Through that movement, the potential of one of them getting infected cannot be ruled out. If one of them gets infected, the possibility of the other 100 getting infected cannot be ruled out."

FILE - An empty street is seen in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Jan. 25, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media.
FILE - An empty street is seen in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Jan. 25, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media.

In an effort to keep the virus at bay, a majority of African governments have chosen not to evacuate their citizens.

Trade between China and Africa has raised fears of a coronavirus outbreak across the continent because of the volume of air traffic between some African countries and China.

Most African countries have increased surveillance in their various ports of entry to ensure that the virus does not sneak in. Some African airlines, including Kenya Airways, have canceled scheduled flights to China as a safety measure.

Kenya's Director General of Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth, said everything is being done to ensure that Kenyans stuck in China — including a team of acrobats — are comfortable.

"However, the situation in China is getting better in terms of the numbers, and we will continue to provide that psychosocial support," Amoth said. "We have also gone ahead to give further support in terms of financials. Yesterday the ministry of foreign affairs released Kenya shillings 1 million, to be distributed to the 100 students plus acrobats in China for their upkeep. Further, the People's Republic of China donated 5,000 US dollars' worth of provisions, which the Kenyan embassy in Beijing is processing for onward transition to the students."

Over 2,000 people infected with the virus have died, while more than 75,000 infections have been confirmed. Cases have been confirmed in at least 26 other countries, but none in sub-Saharan Africa.